Toothbush Mustache vs Hitler Mustache

18 11 2008

History has a funny way of creating it’s own patents. Some things are left open to be used or claimed by the general populous, few things, like the toothbush mustache, are forever given ownership to a long deceased historical figure. Here’s an excerpt from the interesting article by Rich Cohen, “Becoming Adolf”:

“In the coming years, the Toothbrush mustache would belong to just two men, Chaplin and Hitler. The funniest and the scariest. The dialectic of history. For many people, the Toothbrush mustache became no less a symbol of evil than the cloven hoof.

But here’s the big question: did the mustache affect history, or was it just a matter of style? Did it attach itself to a person and drive him crazy? Was the man in charge, or was the mustache calling the shots? Ron Rosenbaum argues that the presence of Chaplin’s ‘stache on Hitler’s face encouraged Western leaders to underestimate the Fuhrer. “Chaplin’s mustache became a lens through which to look at Hitler,” he writes. “A glass in which Hitler became merely Chaplinesque: a figure to be mocked more than feared, a comic villain whose pretensions would collapse of his own disproportionate weight like the Little Tramp collapsing on his cane. Someone to be ridiculed rather than resisted.”

Maybe the mistake of the world leaders was the way they used their perception to measure others. It wasn’t that they suddenly used this principle only on Hitler, but they used it to people all around them. They were accustomed to thing in such a manner that when Hitler arose with his “toothbrush,” in a reactive manner, they took him lightly. And through that mistake, history had patented a piece of fashion, of culture, and given it to one man. Cohen concludes his article commenting on its permanence:

“But in the end, my project, in its broader aims, was a failure. Because no matter how long, or how casually, or how sarcastically I wore the mustache, it still belonged to Hitler. You cannot claim it, or own it, or clean it as a drug lord cleans money. Because it’s too dirty. Because it’s soaked up too much history. It’s his, and as far as I’m concerned, he can keep it. When you wear the Toothbrush mustache, you are wearing the worst story in the world right under your nose.”

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2 responses

18 11 2008
charles

dood whered u find this

18 11 2008
Paul Park

It’s from Rich Cohen’s article “Becoming Adolf” from Vanity Fair magazine.

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